The success of Comic Knits has proven that many knitters are comic book geeks in addition to being knitting geeks. And when I say geek, I'm saying "a person who has a passionate interest in a subject". There are art geeks, architecture geeks, sports geeks, gardening geeks, d&d geeks. It seems to me that knitting geeks don't limit themselves to knitting geekery alone.
Getting to know many of you, I'm seeing knitting geeks who also love to paint, write, watch hockey, read novels, play video games and play d&d. What's another geek obsession among friends?
So let me introduce you to the world of comic books and graphic novels. I like to knit too much to read a whole novel very often. I like comic books and graphic novels because they tend to be shorter than most novels and the artwork engages the same thing in me that loves knitting. I also like the fact that most comics are sequential, and that time passes between comic book issues, which heightens the anticipation of the story, and provides lots of fodder to think about while you're knitting.
Now there are some very good reasons why women in particular do not read comic books. Let me show you one of them:
I would like to show you a larger version of this picture, but I'm afraid that it will put you off comic books entirely. This is Marvel Divas, Marvel Comic's latest offering featuring women. There aren't very many comic books featuring women, certainly not of the superhero variety. Sure there's Poison Ivy, Cat Woman, Bat Girl and the like, but if you do some web surfing you'll find out that these funny books featuring women were never meant to be read by women. They're stories meant for young teenage boys who haven't figured out how to get around the parental porn filter on the internet. Believe me, let me spare you the disappointment as someone who bought a Poison Ivy book looking for something more than veiled pornography with a hint of environmentalism. My qualm here isn't that Marvel features women or glorifies the female body, it's that they do it so very unrealistically.
The four women up there, there isn't an average sized chest among them. Sigh. But I digress. They should just call this comic book "Super Juggs", but on to something more positive:
I want to present Comic Books and Graphic Novels for Knitters:
Fables, by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Mark Buckingham
This is the series that sucked me into comics. We're now 83 issues in and the story continues to grow with characters you've known since childhood. Think of it as a mystery series starring your favorite storybook characters, like Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf, Old King Cole, Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty and others you may have forgotten about. They're all exiled to a secret district in New York City called Fabletown; away from the homelands, which have been overtaken by an evil dictator known widely as "The Adversary". The writing is top notch and always has you begging for more. The art is beautiful enough to make you cry. Covers by James Jean and pencilling by Mark Buckingham. Oh, and did I mention that one of the characters knits? Look for knitting needles in the hands of Frau Totenkinder. Oh and if you fall for this series, be sure to visit clockworkstorybook.net for the fan community online -you can even interact with the creators. BTW, this is not a comic book for kids - I'd say it's better for those 16+
Jack of Fables, created by Bill Willingham, written by Matt Sturges
This is an offshoot of Fables. You shouldn't start reading it until you've finished volume 4 of Fables. You get to know Jack of the Beanstalk more intimately. He's a rascal, a rogue and trouble seems to find him whereever he goes. He has a weakness for beautiful women and a terrible reputation in Fabletown. This series explores many of the tall tales of Americana. As with Fables, there's excellent writing and art and each issue leaves you hungry for the next.
Any Book by Jeffrey Brown
Jeffrey Brown's work is so thoughtful, tender, vulnerable and sweet that it's like reading the screenplay of a independent film love story with a bittersweet ending. Each page makes you feel like you're reading something out of the author's diary and you feel priviledged to get to see so deep inside a person, their hopes, anxieties and struggles. If I was to use one word to describe both his art and his writing I would call it simply genuine. Also read AEIOU, Cat Getting Out of a Bag (a favorite), and Unlikely.
My New York Diary, by Julie Doucet
I used to read Julie Doucet in high school when she did a little something called Dirty Plotte. This Canadian artist often writes about her life when she lived in New York City, but nowadays does a lot of non-narrative graphic art. Her stuff is a little explicit and raw. She hides nothing from her readers. There's so much depth in her artwork that you can see the same page over and over and still discover something new.
Bright Elegy, by Leland Myrick
There is something incredibly gothic about Leland's work. Maybe it's because this story is colored with thunder storms, mysterious followers and a strange yet beautiful family of sisters who live on an island. This is a story about learning to forgive yourself and it's told in gorgeous lines that bring block prints to mind.
Madame Xanadu, by Matt Wagner, drawn by Amy Reeder Hadley
This is a remake of a series done ages ago, that I never read. I love the art in this one and it's actually drawn by a woman, something rarely seen in the world of comic book floppies. While the art work is at times stunning, the mysterious story rarely gives you the narrative payoff that you're looking for. However, I keep reading it issue by issue hoping that will change.
Strangers in Paradise, by Terry Moore
The paperback trades have only come out recently, and they are worth a purchase. Written in the late '80's and early 90's this is a story of a group of friends who endure unusual circumstances to say the least. There are confrontations with the mafia, bizarre love triangles, and hilarious depictions of dysfunctional families. It's a sophisticated soap opera in a book and was entirely ahead of its time. I usually buy one volume whenever I go on vacation to read in the tub.
Zot, by Scott McCloud
When I was in high school I had a friend in Geometry class who used to bring me issues of comic books to distract me from my utter lack of math skills. He once brought me an issue of Zot, which I fell in love with, but couldn't find any additional issues until it was republished in it's entirety last year. It's another high school drama, but this time it's about an intergalactic prince from another planet, a more technological Earth who falls in love with a human girl. If you like reading manga, you'll love Zot.